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Henin Hardenne ends year on top

With her first WTA championship win, Henin ends the year as the top-ranked player in the world.

india Updated: Nov 13, 2006 09:24 IST

Two weeks ago Justine Henin-Hardenne would never have believed that she could win her first WTA championship and end the year as the top-ranked player in the world.

Despite a niggling calf strain the Belgian did just that this week in Madrid. She beat the in-form Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals to secure the year-end number one spot and then defeating defending champion Amelie Mauresmo to win the WTA's end-of-season jamboree.

"We didn't even know if I could play here 15 days ago, but we decided to give it a go and it's gone like a dream," said the 24-year-old Belgian, who had spent the last two months on the sidelines after sustaining a calf injury in the Fed Cup final."

"I came here with a lot of questions in my head and I didn't know if I could be healthy and play five matches at this level in six days. I just didn't know what to expect, but it couldn't have ended better. I won the tournament and ended the year as number one. What more could I ask for?"

The three-times French Open champion said her calf had still been troubling her but added she had been able to adapt her game to cope with the problem.

"We worked hard to improve my confidence on my calf, but it was still not 100 percent. I felt better and better every day. It was tough to play my best tennis so I wanted to remain calm.

"I had the feeling that I couldn't play a lot of rallies during this tournament so I just wanted to take my chances and go for it.


"The key this week was being very aggressive no matter what happened. I did a lot of serve and volley. I went to the net and it really paid off."

Henin-Hardenne said this year had been the best of her career.

"I think I played 13 tournaments, got to 10 finals, had six victories and got in the finals of all the grand slams and won the French Open.

"I wasn't at my best level at Wimbledon and the US Open, but I'm not going to think too much about that. I can say now that this has been the best season of my career, that's for sure."

The Belgian, who has won three of the four grand slams in her career, said that winning Wimbledon remained an important objective.

"Wimbledon is a goal next year, but it's not going to be an obsession, that would be a mistake. Every time I walk on the court I want to give my best and it's going to be great.

First Published: Nov 13, 2006 09:24 IST